The weekend before last, I went book shopping and found The Perfect Elizabeth: A Tale of Two Sisters by Libby Schmais which claimed to be a modern retelling of Sense & Sensibility. Being a true Jane Addict I knew that I had to purchase this book to feed my addiction. Let me say that I was thoroughly and utterly disappointed. If I would have paid more than $1.99 for this book I would have been highly perturbed as it was one of the worst books that I ever read and the only comparison that it had to S&S was that the novel did indeed have two sisters in it. (Believe you me, I searched this book from the front cover to the back for any shred of a resemblance to S&S and found absolutely nothing. I believe that there was only one mention of Jane throughout the book. Truth be told, the novel should have been marketed to Barbara Pym fans as the book is exploding with mentions of her and her novels.)
I have noticed over the last few months that many authors and publishers have been putting in strategically placed references to Jane Austen or/and her novels in the title or in the blurb on the back of the book when in reality the book has little—or often nothing—to do with Jane Austen or her novels. And I must say I am one of those buyers that will buy a novel if Jane Austen or her novels are mentioned anywhere on the front or back cover. Then after reading the book, I have the urge to mail a copy of Jane Austen’s novels to the person who thought it wise to market it as (fill in the appropriate Jane Austen title) with a note saying ‘seriously, have you even read this before using it as a comparison?’.
Why do they place these references on the book when the book obviously has nothing to do with Jane Austen? It’s simple—and while I have come to believe that they do it solely to irritate me—the truth is Jane Austen’s name sells and the publishing world is determined to cash in on it.
My Question Is….Do you buy books because they mention Jane Austen or her works on the cover? And if so, have you been thoroughly disappointed because of it?
Here is the blurb that made me buy the book:
This modern-day Sense & Sensibility is a witty story about two sisters: Liza, a would-be poet who spends miserable days as a legal secretary; and Bette, a graduate student writing her dissertation on Toast in the English Novel. Bette has taken to eating only what the characters she is writing about would eat: boiled eggs on toast, mincemeat, nice cups of tea…Liza’s bit concerned. She’s also worried about the statues of her relationship with her actor boyfriend, Gregor. They’re not living together, and that’s a problem.
Then there’s the issue of Liza’s career, or the lack thereof. Can dog-walking be considered a vocation? Liza’s beginning to think so. Mercifully, Bette is merely a local phone call away.
Throughout this hilarious novel, the sisters deal with unemployment, infidelity, interfering parent, Hollywood, lemmings, a pregnancy, and a wedding. The Perfect Elizabeth is as indulgent and cathartic as a pint of Haagen-Dazs. (from the back of the book)
Until We Meet Again,